New Delhi: The Congress Sunday effected a major organisational reshuffle that seemingly had party vice chief Rahul Gandhi’s stamp, naming former ministers like Ambika Soni, Ajay Maken, C.P. Joshi and Gurudas Kamat as general secretaries and several younger leaders as secretaries.
Geared for the 2014 polls, the changes were carried out ahead of an expected cabinet reshuffle Monday and came on a day Congress’ main national rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost Janata Dal-United (JD-U) as an ally.
Party president Sonia Gandhi, who made the changes, also reconstituted the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body and appointed screening committees for poll-bound Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram.
Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former minister Oscar Fernandes were dropped as general secretaries, while Soni and general secretary Madhusundan Mistry got a leg-up.
Soni will be incharge of Congress president’s office even as Ahmed Patel continues to be political secretary to Sonia Gandhi. Soni, who had earlier been incharge of CPO, had resigned last year as information and broadcasting minister.
Mistry, who contributed to the party’s victory in Karnataka, has been given charge of crucial Uttar Pradesh, and will contend against BJP’s UP incharge Amit Shah, who also hails from Gujarat. Mistry will also be incharge of the party’s central election committee.
Maken, 49, who resigned as minister Saturday, will be incharge of communication, publicity and publication. He will head the wing in an election year and will be assisted by another young MP Priya Dutt as secretary. The task was earlier being handled by Janardan Dwivedi.
Digvijay Singh, who for several years has been general secretary in charge of UP, has now been given charge of Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka.
Rahul Gandhi will be in charge of frontal organisations that include his earlier responsibilities of Youth Congress and NSUI apart from Mahila Congress and Seva Dal.
Former union minister Shakeel Ahmed has been made general secretary in charge of Delhi in place of Birender Singh, who has been dropped. He has also been assigned the states of Haryana, Punjab and the union territory of Chandigarh.
Mohan Prakash, who has been elevated as general secretary, will be in charge of Madhya Pradesh along with Maharashtra, while B.K. Hariprasad will continue to be general secretary incharge of Chhattisgarh and will also have charge of Jharkhand and Odisha.
Indicating Rahul Gandhi’s influence in the reshuffle, a party leader said that the average age of CWC was now about 52.
Another leader said that general secretaries have been assigned states that are adjoining to each other which was not the case in the past.
“This indicates an obvious Rahul Gandhi stamp on the latest reshuffle,” he said.
Party sources said several of the newly-appointed secretaries were young and had worked closely with Rahul Gandhi in the Youth Congress.
Kamat, who was earlier a minister of state in the UPA government, will be general secretary incharge of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, while Soni will also be incharge of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand.
C.P. Joshi, who resigned from the cabinet Saturday, has been given charge of Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Dwivedi will be in charge of All India Congress Committee (AICC) meetings, AICC departments, CWC, organisation, organisational elections, sessions and coordination.
Mukul Wasnik has been made general secretary incharge of Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep, while Luizinho Faleiro will be incharge of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
Vilas Muttemwar has also been dropped as general secretary while Gulchain Singh Charak, Jagdish Tytler, and Jagmeet Singh Brar have been dropped as leaders having independent charge of states.
Maken, Joshi and Kamat have also been inducted to CWC which now also includes Mohan Prakash and Faleiro and Mohan Prakash. New permanent invitees to CWC include Capt. Amarinder Singh, K. S. Rao and Muttemwar.